I don’t want to scare you or anything, but I’m not Molly. This may concern you. Some of you even now could be gnashing your teeth and cursing me for not being the purveyor of all things teen that you are used to, and I understand. You may also be asking yourself, “Hey, stranger typing to me on a computer, whatever happened to the great and beneficent Molly?” Let me answer that question first.
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but several days ago Molly was abducted by aliens. Don’t worry. I’m given to understand they are very kind and treating her well. She is, however, out of galaxy for the time being.
This leads us to me. While enjoying my American breakfast of bacon wrapped doughnuts drizzled in gravy, I received a text from Molly on her way past Jupiter telling me that she was going to be late and asking whether or not I would mind writing an anime review for the CRPL Teen Blog.
So it was off to the haberdasher for a new outfit and with a fistful of dreams I will attempt to write a review worth reading. So, without further ado, the series of the month is…
I watched this series in less than eight hours. Which is only weird because it is over nine and a half hours long; I might be magic.
Azumanga Daioh is a comedy series written by Kiyohiko Azuma, (the same man who would later go on to create Yotsuba!&). Based on a yonkoma (four panel) comic strip of the same name, the title literally translates to Great King Azumanga, (hence the title of the blogpost. Get it?! No? … Psh, whatever, I’m both clever and hilarious). It was adapted into an anime in 2001, the series consisting of 130 five-minute segments squished ever so sweetly into 26 episodes. Set in contemporary Japan, it follows seven eccentric students (as well as their two teachers) from the beginning of high school all the way up to graduation.
Things I liked
+ The Characters + The series itself is entirely character driven. This may sound strange given that from the ten-year-old genius Chiyo to the psychotically energetic Tomo, each character is basically an anime trope stretched to its extreme. However, through their interactions with one another we are shown that they each have their own hopes, dreams, and problems that define them as characters.
+ Humor + While the humor may not be funny to some people, it struck me perfectly. It is absurd and zany, and absolutely wonderful. The jokes are timed well and I never found the the running gags spaced far enough apart that I never found myself annoyed at the pacing.
+ Slice of Life + The series can essentially be watched starting from any episode. There is a chronology, but no overarching plot to speak of . More than that however, there is something about this series that feels, for lack of a better term, real. There is no melodrama, no giant mech battles, nor is there a single love triangle. It’s just normal high school: class, sports, and summer vacation. They start off in high school and by the end they have blossomed out and into society at large. If you watch it in order you will find yourself looking back or, depending on your age, looking toward your time in high school. It is a series that can be watched both in pieces, but offers significantly more when watched in order.
Things I Didn’t Like
– Backgrounds – I know this seems like a strange thing to pick out, but it’s a pretty big issue here. While the characters are animated well, the background are little more than outlines which would be more of a problem if attention wasn’t almost exclusively on the characters.
– Music – It has background music. Period. It is forgettable. It serves its purpose and then it disappears. If you are looking for something that you can listen to on its own and enjoy, you’ll have to look somewhere else.
– The End – Not so much the ending, but the fact that it had to end at all. This much fun is hard to find in a series and should be savored.
Contains mild language and some adult situations, but nothing objectionable if you are over the age of thirteen, which seeing as this is a ‘teen blog’ seems almost not worth mentioning.
The original manga lasted four volumes and its omnibus can occasionally be found floating around resell shops and bookstores. The anime is a bit harder to come across, but if you look hard enough you can find it available to watch on certain online resources.
Remember that time I mentioned Azuma’s other series Yotsuba!&? You should read it. Like now. Stop what you are doing, come to the library and read it. It’s funny, cute, and full of enough heart that it might literally kill you from its sweetness (or at the very least give you diabetes).